Embarrassing blogging moment #2,001. I was live blogging on Spring Break, which was fun, but left for some choppy/erratic/poorly photographed days.
I have some crazy good recommendations in case you ever find yourself in the Kansai area of Japan mostly illiterate, partially alone, and winging it like a certain someone.
Fear not, I have a quickie cheat sheet.
OSAKA 64. Look no further, I have already found the best hostel in Osaka, maybe on the planet. Hip. Clean. Cool. AMAZING showers. Pay only 300 yen for a homemade breakfast of rice bread, yogurt, and homemade jam. Add another 200 yen for unlimited coffee until 11 a.m. Good coffee. Good bread. The bread was so incredible that I would wake up excited for breakfast in the morning, like it was a present on my plate.
I tried – I tried – to get the rice bread recipe. The owner couldn’t give out the recipe, but she was nice to give me some crude descriptions of how to make it. I will try my hardest to replicate that lovely loaf. Last night, I bought rice flour for some weekend bread experimentations.
Neko no Jikan. Cat Cafe. Supposedly the first ever in Japan. Enough said.
Dotonbori District. The bustling district near the river, full of shops, restaurants, and the best people watching.
Osaka Aquarium. Go just for the jellyfish.
They have everything. Try takoyaki (fried octopus fritters), okonomiyaki, and all of the pancakeries. We ate quite a few bentos at the Eki Marche in Osaka Station. We also loved Cafe Charbon in the Amerikamura district. We went twice! Once for a delicious lunch and then at night for a drink. They have a bar and even play movies. Swoon. I wish we had something like this in Takaoka.
Day trip it to…
Head straight for the deer and the daibutsu (Great Buddha) at Tōdai-ji.
Then head to…
So I only saw 10 percent of Kyoto, but everything that I saw was A+++ (except for my hostel which received an F-).
Inari Shrine. #1 recommendation! Even more amazing in person. My favorite part of Kyoto and just what I needed post-horrifying hostel experience. I spent most of the day here.
Kiyumizu-dera. An ancient Buddhist temple set along the hillside. It is like a Dreamworld, complete with holy healing spring water that you can drink. It is also in the famous pottery district area. Be prepared to see shops full of amazing bowls, and if you are a pottery junkie like me, you will need to chant Walk away! No more bowls!
Philosopher’s Path. A reflective path near Kyoto University where a famous professor was thought to walk and meditate. LINED WITH CHERRY BLOSSOMS AND CATS!
Arashiyama. Quiet. Quaint. Traditional. Bamboo forest.
We also liked the ice cream. Here are Ariana and Josh lost in thought eating their Arashiyama ice cream cones.
Kinkakuji. Famous shrine with the Golden Pavilion.
Gion. Go at dusk. Watch out for the mass onset of couples on romantic strolls though.
Misoka-An Kawamichi-Ya for soba noodles. I think I ate soba everyday in Kyoto? The highlight, THE BEST, was at the place that Megan recommended. I went there twice because the first time I arrived three minutes after it closed. Yes, it closes at 8 p.m. on a Friday night.
Nishiki Food Market. I had imagined a Japanese version of London’s Borough Market in my mind. Not quite, but an experience nonetheless. Niskiki Food Market is a long pedestrian street in central Kyoto filled with a selection of unusual food and kitchen stores. (Well, if you are Japanese, not unusual.) There was not much in the way of food vendors, although I did sample an octopus stuffed with a quail egg on a stick after I told myself to be adventurous! and try something new! It was not terrible, but I don’t need to eat it again. All in all, a fun place to wander.
Matcha and warabimochi. I was walking down this street and noticed a group of people gathered in front of a tea house, peering into the most gorgeous courtyard ever. Koi ponds. Waterfalls. Stepping stones. Lillies. If there was a place for fairies and other magical folk to appear, it was here. At last! So even though I was full from sampling all the omiyage from the stores along the same street, I could not pass up this place for a matcha break. I sampled the matcha and warabimochi, a type of mochi rolled in soybean flour famous in the Kansai district. Unfortunately, I never got the name….
just for fun….
One day I was taking a snack break in a park and turned around to find these lovely ladies near some sakura trees.
Cliché? I call it fun. I hope you all get a chance to see Japan in the spring someday. I’ve never experienced a spring so magical and rosy and surreal.